Nurse Angela’s Surgery Story: One Year Later…
Interviewed And Written By Mary Harboe
Only a few weeks ago, we passed the year anniversary of London Vision Clinic nurse Angela’s own Initial Screening. Angela was excited, but, having been told in the past (by a High Street laser eye surgery) that her prescription was too high, her astigmatism too great and her corneas too thin for her to ever be considered for laser surgery, she hadn’t allowed herself to get her hopes too high.
Even after being told – following an extensive range of eye tests – that she was suitable for surgery, Angela found it difficult to absorb the information. “After having been so disappointed, it’s hard to believe someone telling me that one day I might actually be able to see without glasses or contact lenses”, she confided, when we met after her first appointment.
Living With A Very High Prescription
Until this point, Angela’s prescription had meant needing to wear thick glasses, which recalled teenage insecurities (“It’s not about being vain … it’s just about being accepted and fitting in”), or contact lenses – which brought their own problems. “When you wear contacts”, says Angela, “they are just constantly at the back of your mind: have they been in too long? Have you got enough spares and liquid? When should you order some more?”
Rather than complaining, however, Angela had come to accept that she would probably always struggle with her vision. “I’ve always had really bad eyes,” she remembers. “By the age of two, I had learned to cover one eye to look at my books. My mother was alerted to the problem early, and she made sure that I was tested and treated. Since then, I have always needed glasses or contacts to see.”
Years later, after training in nursing at King’s College, London, Angela worked in dermatology as a laser nurse for four years. When she was ready for a change from the world of aesthetic medicine, London Vision Clinic seemed like a natural choice.
“With my own eye sight problems,” she says, “I’d always been interested in working in this field. I had heard about London Vision Clinic’s reputation and wanted to learn more about their work – and I’m so happy that I did. I love my job and I don’t think many people can say that.”
Until she joined London Vision Clinic in July 2012, however, Angela had all but given up on the idea of being able to see without glasses herself. Having struggled with extremely poor eyesight since for as long as she could remember, and been told that she was unsuitable for surgery, she was surprised to find that London Vision Clinic could safely and accurately correct very high hyperopic prescriptions, like her own.
Seeing Clearly For The First Time
After extensive testing (including an appointment with the Artemis Insight 100 ultrasound scanner, which provides the world’s most accurate corneal measurements), Angela was found suitable for surgery and was initially surprised to feel a little nervous (as well as elated!).
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“Despite all my experience, and knowing that it wouldn’t hurt, I did feel somewhat nervous before the surgery”, she says. “It was a matter of facing something that was out of my control, even though I knew that it would be absolutely fine. I think it is completely normal to have some anxiety whoever you are. For me it was mixed with a feeling of excitement and anticipation.” For Angela, this anticipation of the ‘unknown’ also extended beyond her surgery day, into the future ahead: “while many people’s eyesight deteriorates gradually, I have never been able to see unaided. It was quite difficult to get used to the idea of being able to see!”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, it wasn’t until the afternoon of 8th April 2013, when Angela had had her surgery, left the clinic, and arrived home able to see clearly, that she really let herself believe that she could see without glasses or contacts, for the first time in her life.
A New Perspective
One year after the process began, we caught up with Angela to see how laser eye surgery has affected her life. One of the most exciting things, she says, is finally being able to make spontaneous decisions without having to think about her contact lenses. “Only contact lens wearers know what it’s like,” she smiles, “you can never make that last minute decision to stay over at a friend’s house; it sounds like something minor, but when something changes your every-day life like that, it just makes so much difference … Waking up and being able to see immediately – that’s massive. To jump into the shower without thinking; and then putting on make-up.”
These moments ensure that, even many months later, Angela never takes her new vision for granted for long.
At London Vision Clinic, we pride ourselves on all of our staff being empathetic and understanding of our patients’ needs throughout the process. However, like several of her colleagues, Angela is now in the privileged position of being able to (almost literally) see London Vision Clinic from the patients’ point of view. For her, this has been one of the most enlightening aspects of the whole process, as she finds herself identifying with the nerves, apprehension (and, of course, excitement), that new patients are experiencing. “It has really given me a new perspective on London Vision Clinic”, says Angela.
Meanwhile, Angela’s boyfriend and her mother were so impressed with her results and speedy recovery time, that they are now both quizzing her about visiting the London Vision Clinic as patients. Who knows – we may be seeing more of the Bobbitt family before too long!